Security tightened on free Internet

By Du Liya Source:Global Times Published: 2012-7-16 0:45:18

Hotels, KTVs and restaurants in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, that offer free Internet service to customers are being asked by the city's public security bureau to install an Internet monitoring system at their own expense, or face fines up to 15,000 yuan ($2,351), according to a new regulation released on Friday.

The system records login and logout information including a user's password. It also keeps track of users at the city's free Internet venues and blocks erotic, superstitious and sensitive content.

Tang Xinguo, head of Internet management office under the city's public security bureau, was quoted Saturday by the Changsha-based Xiaoxiang Morning Post as saying that venues that provide free Internet have great gaps in supervision as Web users can get access to the Internet without showing their ID.

"Some harmful information is likely to be released by those users who are not asked to register with their ID, and it is hard to find out the source of the information," Tang added.

The ID registration is a State-level regulation for all customers who pay to surf the Web at Internet cafés.

Last August, some bars, cafés and restaurants in the popular tourist hangout Nanluoguxiang in Beijing's Dongcheng district cut their Wi-Fi access after local police instructed them to install the expensive monitoring software.

"The government wants to control and censor Web users in case of illegal activities. It hasn't made our business worse, most of the customers come here for beer instead of free wireless Internet service," a staffer at 12SQM, told the Global Times last summer.

"It is not quite possible for a small restaurant like us with a monthly profit of 3,000 yuan to install a 20,000-yuan monitoring system," a restaurant owner in Changsha, surnamed Wang, told the Global Times on Sunday.

The initial list of approved units and companies that have installed the security system in Changsha include 98 hotels that provide free Internet service to their guests.

"Small business owners may find it difficult to implement this new rule, however, the installation of such a system actually serves to protect them," said Fang Binxing, president of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications and expert on network information security.

"If there is a leak of harmful information from the Internet at a restaurant without this system, police officers cannot easily find out who might be responsible and the restaurant will have to share responsibility," Fang added.

Other cities including Baoding in Hebei Province and Beihai in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region have also regulated venues that provide free Internet by requiring they install a security system.

At the Beijing Capital International Airport, travelers are required to swipe their ID cards or passports at one of 30 machines that will then dispense an account name and password linked to their identity allowing them to surf the Web.

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